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Analyze Your Competition before Starting an SEO & Marketing Campaign

Analyze Your Competition

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by Wendy Suto
March 19, 2008

Wendy Suto

Wendy Suto is president of Search Circus, a Web site marketing firm based in Cleveland, Ohio. She keeps pace with the latest optimization, link building and article submission tactics. Before becoming an SEO consultant, Wendy was a computer instructor for a wide range of businesses, teaching software and security programs to children and adults alike. Businesses included Gateway Computers, Stautzenberger College and a Catholic school in Toledo, Ohio. As a certified SEO consultant, she will be starting SEO training classes this spring facilities in Cleveland, Ohio. wendy@searchcircus.com

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Thinking about adding an effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to your advertising and marketing campaign this year? Before starting your program, it is important to first know who your online competitors are and what kind of online marketing strategies they are already doing. You will want to take some time to research and analyze your local and national competitors online…before they analyze you first.

Here are some guidelines and questions to consider while performing research on the Internet about your competitors:

Website Design and Layout

  • Are your competitors using a search engine friendly Web design, like a basic HTML or ASP site?
  • Are they using JavaScript, a dynamically-driven site, frames, or tables that will prevent search engines from properly indexing their sites?
  • Are any Web sites built entirely in flash?
  • Are their sites easy to navigate with a professional look and feel by using the same font styles and sizes and similar color schemes throughout?
  • How heavily are the graphics on the Web site?
  • How many Web pages total does each of your competitors have on their site? Does your site need improvement on the amount of content-rich Web pages you have?
  • Does the entire Web site focus on one central theme alone?

Placement of Keywords

  • Where are your competitors using their chosen keywords? The META title tag? The META description tag? The META keywords tag? In ALT tags? What about in link text and headline tags? The page URL? Image names?
  • How often do those keywords appear on each Web page?
  • Where does each of their keywords first appear on the pages of each of your competitors sites?
  • Are they achieving good rankings for their chosen keywords online in Google, MSN and Yahoo!?
  • What is the keyword weight and density of the entire content of your competitors’ pages? Are they keyword spamming?
  • What are their chosen keywords being targeted on their sites? Are they single words or long-tail keywords with 3, 4 or even 5 keyword phrases?

Off Page Factors

  • Check your competitors Alexa traffic rank and compare with yours. Do they receive more or less Web traffic to their sites, according to Alexa.com?
  • What is their Google PageRank? Again, is it higher or lower than yours?
  • Go to a reputable link popularity checker online and compare the number of incoming links your site has versus your competitors. How much improvement in link building, if any, does your site need to effectively compete online?
  • What types of incoming links are they receiving, how top quality are these links, and how much traffic does a link from these sites generate for your competitors each month?
  • Are any of your competitors registered with any popular link directories, like dmoz.org, Yahoo! Directory, Business.com or other similar high traffic directories online?
  • Do they have a sign up box for an industry email newsletter on their sites?

Use of Spamming Techniques

  • Is the competitor’s site using any spam or unethical search engine practices? If so, what are they?
  • Do any of these sites have doorway or gateway pages?
  • Do they have same color text on a same color background?
  • Are they blatantly keyword spamming?
  • Are these sites publicly listed or affiliated with gambling or adult-oriented sites?



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